Lancaster scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to turn a 2-1 deficit into a lead it never relinquished in beating Niagara Falls, 6-4, in the Section VI Class AA baseball final Saturday afternoon at Sal Maglie Stadium.
A crowd of an estimated 600 watched the Legends win their first title since 2014 and third since 2012 as winning pitcher Ben Monti went 3 for 3 with a pair of doubles and a triple, a run scored and an RBI during the fourth. He also battled into the sixth inning even though he didn’t have his best stuff, getting lifted after Falls loaded the bases with no outs. Collin Reformat retired six of the seven batters he faced to earn the save.
Lancaster (21-2) next plays the Section V champion at a time still to be determined Saturday at Frontier Field in Rochester. The Legends haven’t advanced to the state Final Four since the late 1990s.
Monti did his part to help Lancaster advance. After the Legends used up most of their pitchers in Thursday’s 10-inning semifinal win, Monti scattered nine hits and worked around three walks to give Lancaster coach Mark Dalfonso innings and his team a fighting chance to win.
The Legends did just that with their fourth-inning eruption as Max Giordano’s run-scoring triple brought home Connor Duck with the tying run. An error on pitcher Justin Beyer while trying to field a bunt that handcuffed him enabled Giordano to score later with the go-ahead run. Monti capped the uprising with a gift double as a sharp grounder to the second baseman took a crazy hop off the lip of the grass and sailed over Vincent Colosi’s head into shallow right. Monti crushed the ball his first two at-bats, the reason the outfield played him deep.
The loss ends a fine season for Niagara Falls (12-7), which was trying to win the city’s first title in baseball since 1999 – when the old Power Cats won the crown. The loss also continued a trend by the Wolverines, who beat either Orchard Park or Lancaster but not both in the same postseason.